Both Judaism and Islam have prohibited eating pork and its products for thousands of years. Scholars have proposed several reasons for the ban to which both religions almost totally adhere. Pork, and the refusal to eat it, possesses powerful cultural baggage for Jews. Israel has legislated two related laws: the Pork Law in 1962, that bans the rearing and slaughter of pigs across the country, and the Meat Law of 1994, prohibiting all imports of nonkosher meats into Israel.

While not abounding, Israeli pork-eaters certainly exist, and a small number of pig-breeding farms operate in the country, mostly in Christian villages. The influx of Russian immigrants in the 1990s helped boost sales of pork, but the force of the taboo remains so powerful that many secular Israelis still eschew pork dishes, while willing to eat less charged nonkosher items such as shellfish.

A porchetta feast recently held in the Muslim-Jewish town of Jaffa, defied the religious and cultural taboo. It was a celebration of a book by Dr. Eli Landau, The White Book, which is the first Hebrew-language collection of pork recipes. Fearing repercussions, Israeli publishers unanimously refused to publish it and the book chain stores declined to display it. As a result, Landau published it himself.

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